They aren’t the “Dream Team” (sorry Kobe). They aren’t the “Redeem Team.” There has been talk of the “Regime Team.” But after last night, you might as well just call them “Kevin Durant.”
From two-point range D.C.’s own Kevin Durant had an average night -- 50 percent (1 of 2). It was from beyond the arc where he exploded, dropping 8 of 10 three-point attempts en route to a 28-point performance -- 10 points better than LeBron James and 17 better than Kobe Bryant.
"I’m a scorer," Durant said. "I’m not just a 3-point shooter but here for this team, I have to be a spacer. I’m loving it. It’s so close compared to the NBA line. I just got to catch and shoot."
Durant’s 28 points were more than the entire Argentinian team scored in three of the four quarters, and only 10 less than they scored in the entire second half.
"It was one of those times ... I’ve probably had that feeling three or four times before that every time I catch it, I feel like it’s going to go in but it wasn’t just me," Durant said. "My teammates did a good job of giving me confidence first off. Also, just finding me. They’re passing up shots to give me the ball and that’s a great feeling. I just try to do my part and make the shot."
From three-point land Durant shot over twice as well as the entire Argentinian team. He outscored Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Tyson Chandler combined. The only person who played more minutes than Durant was Chris Paul, whom he outscored by 11.
With stats like that a U.S. victory would seem inevitable -- it was, but not for the entire game. After the first quarter the Americans held just a two-point lead. At halftime that had been slivered down to one point.
The potential headline “U.S. Team Upset by Underdog Argentina” didn’t sound so good to Durant and company, so they did something about it -- 42 somethings to be exact. Coming out of the locker room the U.S. squad scored 42 points in the third quarter to jump out to a 102-76 lead (even Anthony Davis got in on the scoring action), all the while limiting the faltering Argentinians to just 17 points.
Kevin Love said Durant had quite a rhythm going in the second half to lead the way.
"We were talking at halftime that everybody needed to step up and make a concerted effort," Love said. "I don’t think he took that lightly. He came through, hit a lot of big shots for us and that’s what I think got us into a rhythm."
The fourth quarter went much more like the first and second -- U.S. 24, Argentina 21, but the damage was done. There would be no comeback. Westbrook put the icing on the cake with this monster dunk and wrapped up a 126-97 U.S. victory.
The U.S. team will face Australia in the quarterfinal round. Pending a victory they’ll face either Brazil or a rematch against Argentina in the semifinals.
On the other side of the bracket is Spain, heavy silver (and possibly gold) medal favorite. They’ll have to get through a French team led by NBA star Tony Parker (which the U.S. beat by 27), then either Russia (who they have already lost to) or Lithuania.